Growing concern over fertility and the controversy of preserving it has inspired a Danish research team to assess what, exactly, drains a woman’s ovarian reserves, and they concluded that the oral contraceptive pill could be a major culprit, at least temporarily.
Ovarian reserve is a measure of the ovary’s capacity to produce fertile oocytes (egg cells). Modern science assesses it via two measures: levels of anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH) in the blood and the number of early (antral) follicles in the ovary.
The latter is quantified by means of a vaginal ultrasound in a test of antral follicles count (AFC), which, coupled with AMH testing, provides the most reliable measure of fertility, with the two considered indicators of ovarian age.
Researchers tested 833 women between the ages of 19 and 46 and found the AFC measurements 16 percent lower in pill users and AMH levels down 19 percent.
AMH was still up to 30 percent lower and AFC up to 20 percent lower in pill users after the results were statistically adjusted for age, BMI, smoking, maternal age at menopause, maternal smoking during pregnancy, and prematurity.
To what degree the pill’s effects on the ovaries are permanent and how long they last is yet to be discovered, researcher Dr. Katherine Birch Petersen, from the Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark, said recently.
Although statistics indicate plenty of pill users eventually become pregnant, the effects of long-term pill use have remained a concern.
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